Tony’s Still Eating at Home
Yo everybody! How’s it goin’? Wowza, it’s been three months now and ole Tones is aching to get out again. But with all those restaurants closed for so long and the new rules around, what they gotta do? I ain’t so sure I wanna go anywhere. I mean how’s a guy gonna eat with a mask on? Not that it’s a bad idea, cuz there’s some folks I just don’t wanna watch eat, like my cousin Gino for example. Dat guy is always chewing with his mouth open and talking at the same time. It’s like watchin’ someone throw a pizza into a wood chipper.
So me and da missus figure we’ll just keep eatin’ at home for a little while longer. So dat means – you guessed it – Tony’s gonna toss you some more wisdom al la cucina. Ain’t you lucky? Shaddup.
I’m sure you all have seen that disgusting and shocking tragedy known as canned pasta. Apart from it being bad for ya, I’m thinkin’ if there ever was a reason for Italy coming over here and kicking our butts, that would be it. Well, that and pineapple on pizza. So, instead of cracking open a can, let’s make the real deal, ya?
So here goes. First I’m gonna give you a base tomato sauce. Then, we’re gonna make some meatballs and I’ll give you some other options as well.
Here’s where you can kick it up a notch or two. Try adding some meats to it when you’re baking it. Toss in a few Italian Sausages (I like Massimo’s sausages at the Italian Centre Shop) cut into big chunks, a couple spare ribs and maybe a pork chop. Let them simmer and cook with the sauce, then remove before blitzing. It makes a nice lunch or secondo (second plate).
Or, add some meatballs. I make mine the proper way with all three meats: ground beef, veal, and pork.
Pick a pasta of your choice – there’s more than just spaghetti. Try a proper Maccheroni from Calabria or Puglia. Cook the Maccheroni in well salted water to al dente (firm to the bite). Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce and meatballs, stir to properly coat. Place in an ovenproof casserole and top with some fresh mozzarella or caciocavallo and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Buon Appetito! And don’t let old Tony ever see you with a can of Beef-A-Roni!
*Tony’s Tomato Sauce *
(Makes 2 litres of sauce)
- 1 onion chopped
- 6-7 large cloves of garlic smashed
- 1/4 good EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- 2 x 28 oz cans San Marzano Tomatoes crushed by hand – make sure it says DOP on the can
- 1 tbsp real oregano
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (your call)
- 1 jar Mutti brand Passata (uncooked tomato purée)
- Handful of torn fresh basil
- Ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 325 F
- Heat a large oven proof pot with the oil over medium-low heat.
- Toss in onion and garlic and sauté 8 or so minutes until aromatic.
- Toss in oregano and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
- Add tomatoes and stir.
- Toss in basil and place the pot partially covered in the oven. Bake for 3 hours stirring once an hour.
- After three hours add the Passata and cook for another 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 1/2 an hour.
- Blitz with an immersion blender until silky smooth. Make sure to scrape off brown bits from the sides.
- Return to stove top and season with salt and pepper.
This is a base sauce. If cooking with meatballs or meat, toss it in and simmer it until it’s done. This will develop the sauce flavour and incorporate the sauce into the meat.
- 1/2 Cup fresh bread crumbs
- ½ Cup whole milk
- 1 lb each ground veal, ground beef, and ground pork
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
- 1/2 Cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 Tbsp Red Chile Flakes (your call)
- salt and pepper
Add the breadcrumbs and milk in a bowl and let sit a couple minutes. Add the rest and mix well by hand – really get in there and mix it all together. Shape into meatballs about the size of a walnut and roll between your palms until firm and round then place on a tray. Put them in the freezer for about ½ an hour to firm up. You can now bag them and freeze for later use. Or, add a dozen to your sauce and cook them for about ½ an hour at a slow simmer.
Tony lives in McCauley.